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Remarque’s Use of Literary Devices in "All Quiet on The Western Front"

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Words: 908 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 908|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

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Erich Maria Remarque's novel, "All Quiet on the Western Front," immerses readers in the harrowing journey of war, offering a unique perspective through the eyes of a young German soldier. Employing vivid imagery, poignant anecdotes, and powerful symbolism, the book invites readers to fully engage with and experience the physical and psychological horrors wrought by warfare.

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The Portrayal of the Effects of War in "All Quiet on the Western Front"

The story begins with a group of young boys, influenced by societal notions of honor and patriotism, eagerly enlisting in the army to serve in World War I. However, as the narrative unfolds, it becomes evident that these boys were never adequately prepared for the grim realities of war. A telling quote from Chapter 5 underscores their lack of education regarding the brutal nature of combat:

"At school, nobody ever taught us...that it is best to stick a bayonet in the belly because it doesn't get jammed, as it does in the ribs" (Remarque, pg. 85).

This quote reveals the stark truth that these young soldiers were ill-prepared and uninformed about the gruesome aspects of warfare. As the novel progresses, it delves deeper into the emotional and psychological toll exacted on these youthful combatants.

The novel employs various literary devices to underscore how the soldiers' perspectives have been irrevocably altered by the war. Early in the book, Paul and his comrades return from the frontlines, and in an ironic twist, they request extra rations after witnessing the deaths of eighty men. This irony lies in the fact that, under normal circumstances, one would not expect soldiers to request more food immediately after experiencing such a tragic loss. However, the war has transformed their way of thinking; they prioritize their own survival over the lives already lost. Another literary device used is metaphor, as evident in the line, "we have become wild beasts" (Remarque, pg. 113). This metaphor provides insight into the soldiers' psyche, illustrating their willingness to do anything to survive, even if it means resorting to desperate and animalistic instincts. This aligns with the theme of emotional and mental transformation brought about by war.

The novel is enriched by its subplots, each contributing to the overarching themes. One significant subplot involves Paul's gradual metamorphosis into a war machine as he learns to navigate bullets, bombs, and enemies with unnerving ease. However, this transformation comes at a profound cost – he loses his sense of humanity, becoming precisely what the war demands: another killing machine amidst countless others. His perception of "home" shifts from the place where his family resides to the frontlines, where he witnesses countless deaths. This transformation is an element of the plot, driving Paul's realization that the war is devoid of meaning, and that death is inevitable for him, his friends, and the entire German army. Another plot element is the death of Kat, who dies on Paul's back while being carried to a makeshift hospital. This tragic loss further chips away at Paul's will to continue, as he reflects on his experiences in battle and concludes that he will never find peace; all he knows is war. The irony lies in the assertion that when Paul eventually meets his own demise,

"he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come" (Remarque).

It is a poignant, albeit somber, revelation that he finds solace in the release of death.

While the novel is set in a historical context far removed from contemporary life, it remains relatable through its exploration of universal human emotions. The quote,

"We have lost all sense of other considerations because they are artificial. Only the facts are real and important to us" (Remarque, pg. 21),

resonates with many readers. It reflects the human experience of having one's expectations shattered by the harsh realities of life, which leads to an appreciation for raw, unvarnished truths. This sentiment can be readily understood by those who have faced disappointments and learned to value the importance of facts over wishful thinking. The quote is linked to Paul's recollection of their youthful innocence upon enlisting in the army, which was swiftly extinguished as they confronted the harsh realities of war.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, "All Quiet on the Western Front" is a profoundly emotional exploration of the devastating effects of war. The skillful use of literary devices, elements of plot, and the novel's ability to establish connections with readers' own experiences imbues the story with relatability, despite its World War I setting. Through its vivid portrayal of the human psyche and heart, the book leaves an enduring impact, resonating with readers for decades and continuing to evoke deep emotions. It stands as a testament to the enduring power of literature to elicit profound feelings and insights into the human condition.

References:

  1. Remarque, E. M. (1929). All Quiet on the Western Front. Little, Brown and Company.
  2. Wiest, A., & Kingseed, C. (2012). The Illustrated History of World War I: The Battles, Personalities, Events, and Key Weapons From All Fronts In The First World War 1914-18. Chartwell Books.
  3. Reuter, D. F., & Kronenbitter, R. D. (2015). The Great War: Perspectives on the First World War. Oxford University Press.
  4. Sayers, D. (1996). Further Studies in Human Thinghood. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
  5. Buell, L. (2008). The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. Belknap Press.
  6. Anderson, C. M. (2006). A Quiet Apocalypse: On the German Imagination of Ruins. SUNY Press.
  7. Bessel, R. (2013). Germany after the First World War. Oxford University Press.
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Remarque’s Use Of Literary Devices In “All Quiet On The Western Front”. (2023, October 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/remarques-use-of-literary-devices-in-all-quiet-on-the-western-front/
“Remarque’s Use Of Literary Devices In “All Quiet On The Western Front”.” GradesFixer, 05 Oct. 2023, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/remarques-use-of-literary-devices-in-all-quiet-on-the-western-front/
Remarque’s Use Of Literary Devices In “All Quiet On The Western Front”. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/remarques-use-of-literary-devices-in-all-quiet-on-the-western-front/> [Accessed 22 Apr. 2024].
Remarque’s Use Of Literary Devices In “All Quiet On The Western Front” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Oct 05 [cited 2024 Apr 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/remarques-use-of-literary-devices-in-all-quiet-on-the-western-front/
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